In the same Onnit interview, Landers noted that he would “intersperse strength training with interval cardio,” making sure to give Zabka a breather between them. Zabka spent three or four days a week on this routine while varying the exercises as much as possible — from bench pressing to running on a treadmill — and his physical condition improved beyond what it’d already been beforehand. He even lost a bit of weight.
Knowing Zabka would probably be executing a number of kicks on Cobra Kai, Landers also ensured that they spent time working on Zabka’s muscle balance — which, while not quite the balance Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi taught Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso, is still super important. “I didn’t want to risk him being weak on one side or in any way that could hurt his performance,” Landers said. So they did all the leg workouts on both sides of Zabka’s body.
In an interview with PopCulture.com, Zabka also credited his return to form to a renewal of his martial arts training. From karate to taekwondo, he re-familiarized himself with the motions that would come with Cobra Kai‘s fight scenes. Aided by trainers that kept him “limber and safe,” as well as a carefully regulated diet of lean proteins and vegetables, Zabka eventually felt that he truly embodied Johnny Lawrence once again.
The whole process required not only that the work be done, but that Zabka fully dedicated himself to it — lucky for Cobra Kai fans, that’s exactly what he did. The next time he throws out some crazy kick, you can appreciate the effort that went into being able to throw it.